Letter Writing, Morale, and Marriage: The Unique Letter Writing Role of Women During World War II and a Commentary on Marriage

Student Author(s)

Alexandra Piper

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jeanne Petit

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When we consider the role of women during World War II, we often think of the image of Rosie the Riveter. Yet women found many ways to support the war, including boosting morale to the men overseas as letter writers. During World War II, handbooks and advertisements suggested specific guidelines to women for how to write cheerful, morale-boosting letters, but women did not always follow these guidelines and instead wrote raw and emotional letters. I compare the advice presented to women for letter writing and the reality of the situation using a variety of primary sources including handbooks and advertisements from the time as well as letters from women on the home front. The tensions that arose between the suggested guidelines and the actual letters illuminate a changing dynamic in marriage during the time. Women began to see their marriages as equal and companionate, and the uncertainty of wartime produced a “now or never” aspect to their unions. These letters illustrate the difficulties of life on the home front and underscore the power of love and resilience of women during World War II.

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